The Swedish furniture and decoration company IKEA has defended a Muslim employee after she was abused online by a customer.
The customer in Aubonne, Switzerland, deplored the presence of a “veiled cashier” at an IKEA store. “I will never set foot there again,” she said on Google Reviews.
But the company’s response on Google was quick: “Our company has clear values: respect for everyone, regardless of their origin, sexual orientation or religion. Before judging a person on his clothes, you have to get to know him… We will in no case mourn the fact that you will no longer set foot in our stores with with such opinions.”
Many people on Google welcomed Ikea’s position.
“I wanted to thank you for your comment concerning this lady who criticized a veiled cashier,” one lady said. “You have shown us your tolerance and your openness. Certainly a lady will no longer set foot in your store, but know that hundreds of other people will be delighted to be your new customers, and me first. If only all brands were like IKEA our world would be so wonderful. Respect to you and bravo IKEA.”
Another added: “I give you 5 stars for your sensible response as well as for your spirit of tolerance and openness. As for that person, if the sight of a veiled woman bothers her so much that she no longer comes, veiled women also do not want to have to deal with this kind of hate.”
Another web user said: “You represent for me the openness and the image that companies should project. In many countries there is a mixture of culture and religions, visible, and which is so much in the norm that the question does not even arise any more. And I am happy to begin to see that in Switzerland too.
“Believe me if this customer does not come back, you have won a lot more! Well done for your openness, well done for your professionalism, well done to your teams!!!!”
The incident comes amid a debate in Swiss society regarding a ban on face coverings, including the niqab worn by Muslim women.
In 2018, the Swiss government opposed a grassroots campaign for the ban, saying individual cantons should decide on the matter independently.
So far two Swiss cantons, St. Gallen and Ticino, have imposed a ban on burqas and other facial covering in public.